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How to Explain Jesus to a 3-Year-Old

by Karen Hollowell

Preschoolers will often ask their parents questions about what they consider the mysteries of life. Religion falls in this category. Christian and non-Christian adults might have a hard time explaining Jesus to their child because He can't be seen. With carefully chosen and simple language, a parent can make Jesus more real to their child. According to the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible, Jesus said it is necessary to become child-like in faith in order to inherit His blessings. Because children usually trust what adults tell them, they will more readily accept their parents' explanation and have an easier time comprehending it.

Use vocabulary that a 3-year old can understand. Tell the child that Jesus is God's son who came to show us how to love each other. Choose phrases such as "Jesus was born so he could teach us more about God and how to live in a way that pleases Him." Avoid preachy language such as "getting saved" or "saved by grace." Those are confusing terms to young kids, especially those who do not attend church and are not accustomed to "church speak."

Let your child's personality and development determine what information you share when you explain Jesus. For example, more mature children can learn a lot if you read directly from the Bible about Jesus' life, ministry and death. Those less mature might benefit if parents read about Jesus in storybook form. When explaining Jesus' death, it is important that parents convey to their child that He died painfully, but they can omit the more graphic details until they are older.

Encourage your child to ask questions about Jesus. Be honest about anything you do not know. They might ask you how Jesus can be in their heart because they know that a person cannot physically be in their body with them. Ask a pastor or Christian counselor to help you explain issues that are hard for a child to understand.

Reinforce a child's knowledge during holiday seasons. Print coloring sheets that depict Jesus' influence on holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Read the traditional stories associated with these holy days. Many children know the secular way to celebrate holidays, but many people believe that Jesus' birth, death and resurrection are the basis for these observances.

Use online resources. Christians Unite has many stories about Jesus that are scripture-based but written in modern language. DLTK has printable versions of stories about Jesus so even if the adult is unfamiliar with the details, they can still help their child understand His life.

Warning

  • If you print out coloring sheets that depict Jesus or show pictures of Jesus that are in many children's Bibles, explain that no one really knows what He looked like.

About the Author

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.

Photo Credits

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